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Cleveland Marathon race report

OakLeaf2010-12-12 08:19:07 +0000 #1
The Theme

My yoga teacher is fond of saying that gratitude opens all the chakras. During almost every class, as we hold a pose, she asks us to meditate on the simple words “Thank You.” So when I wanted something to write on the nasal strip I planned to wear for the race, it didn’t take long to decide on a simple “THANK YOU!” Throughout the race, I thanked nearly every volunteer I encountered, and many of the "fans" who cheered us on. There were only a few short times when I started to feel negative, but those were the times that I turned to gratitude meditation, sucking energy from the earth through the portals of my feet, building it in my core and shooting it out my crown.

I want to thank everyone here who’s helped and supported me on this journey. I hate to even name names because ALL of you have been so great, and I don't want anyone to feel I omitted her... but let me give shout-outs to Grog and Katluvr, who trained for your first marathons along with me; to Colby and Wahine, for their encouragement and words of experience; to KnottedYet for her PT advice; to Urlea and Yellow for the inspiration of their amazing feats ... especially knowing now how much pain Yellow must have been in for the last couple of years. Thank you all, every one of you.

The Plan

I’d read a little saying a couple of months ago: “Run the first ten miles with your head. Run the second ten miles with your legs. Run the last ten kilometers with your heart.” I loved the idea, but as a first-timer, I wanted to break it up a little differently. I would run half before assessing, for two reasons: a half was the longest distance I’d raced before, and there was also the psychological advantage of being half finished. I’ve also never raced a 10K, and that seemed like too long a chunk for me to really open it up at the end. Five miles seemed more manageable. So I set my watch to divide the race into three segments: 13.1, 8.1, 5. The first two segments I set pace goals, wide but progressively quicker; the last one I left open, to give whatever I had.

The Run

My goal was a 4:30 finish, so I lined up with the 4:30 pace group (or I should say, I pushed my way as far as I could through spectators, walkers and 10K runners, and fell in behind the 4:30 pacers when they came by me). From an expectedly mobbed start, the crowd never really thinned out until the half marathon split. I’m not sure whether it was because the roads were narrow or what, but I was dodging walkers for at least two miles, coming to full stops at aid stations, and weaving my way back and forth through clumps of runners so badly that by the time I reached the half marathon split, I’d already run 13.4 miles by my watch.

A couple of miles before that, I’d taken a brief nature break; soon after I entered the second segment of my race, I’d worked my way back within sight of the 4:30 pace group. I was feeling confident that I could finish the race with them and probably quicker. But the wind was kicking up.

Prevailing winds on Lake Erie are from the west-northwest. In past years, the race had finished along the lakefront with several miles into the wind. Responding to complaints from runners, last year the race organizers had turned the course around to run eight miles northeastward along the lakefront, and this year’s course was similar. You’ve heard the saying “it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature?” On race day, the wind was from the northeast.

The weather forecast had gotten the wind direction right, but after a couple of miles I was pretty sure that the forecast of 6-10 mph wind was optimistic. Sure enough, when I got back and checked the three-day history, the wind during the race had reached 16 mph, smack in our face. So catching right back up to the 4:30 pace group and drafting behind them for another few miles seemed like a really good plan to me.

Eventually we veered slightly away from the wind, and I got tired of running in a clump of people. I passed the pace group without a real intention of leaving them behind, knowing I had my watch to keep my pace within fairly broad parameters. As it turned out, between getting out of the wind and leaving the pace group, I immediately upped my pace by 30 seconds per mile – even though we were entering the hilliest part of the course – a pace I would maintain for the next seven miles.

From the rolling parklands and expansive, manicured lawns of the easternmost miles of the race, with five miles to go we turned to a neighborhood of dilapidated buildings, cracked roadways and depressed-appearing residents. Apart from the aid stations, we had virtually no support. The distance and the environment began taking their toll on runners. I began passing people by the dozens as I held my pace. With a mile and a half to go, I drew on everything I had left and dropped my pace by another 30 seconds. Reaching the finish, I was spent.

The Most Gratifying Moment

Thirteen or fourteen miles in, one of the pacers tripped on something in the path and went sprawling (fortunately, she was fine and got up right away). Just a few paces behind her, I tripped on the same thing, and did not fall. After falling several times in training runs earlier in the winter, this was a big deal to me. Those hip stabilizer exercises and yoga paid off!

The Most Fun

Unfortunately, fun moments were few; the race was rather poorly supported, with only I think three live bands, a handful of PAs playing recorded music, and mostly isolated clumps of spectators. (Two cheerleading squads, and later, a pair of priests sprinkling runners with holy water, were high points.) Late in the race – when many runners seemed to have hit their personal Wall, but before I’d traded my smile for the afterburners – we passed a PA set up on a corner, playing Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” Okay, crude song, but very motivating. I pointed a finger to the sky and sang along with the chorus. The spectators went wild. The chorus came around again after I’d turned the corner, and I did the same, drawing an even bigger round of cheers. It took me another half a mile to catch my breath.

Overview

I finished in 4:21:28, well within my goal of 4:30. Placing: 15/44 in age group, 357/1099 women, 1313/2789 overall. Not so bad for my first marathon with a hypothetical Magic 8-Ball as my coach. I think with a real coach I would’ve had a better idea of what I could do; judging by how much I was able to drop the pace in the closing miles, I probably went out too conservatively.

Still, I was within four minutes of Galloway’s prediction based on my 5K PR. That’s the only distance I’ve run enough times to feel I understand the distance, and that my PR is approaching my real potential. Most other pace predictors say I could do a marathon in 4:05 or even quicker. That’s a Boston qualifier, at my age. Do I really have it in me? Stay tuned.


Bike Chick2010-12-12 08:28:40 +0000 #2
Wow, Oak, that's awesome! You did great and I love your report. I was thinking of you all day Sunday wondering how it was going. I definitely see Boston in your future........Congrats! Well done!
yellow2010-12-12 08:26:13 +0000 #3
What a great write up! Sounds like a great experience all around. Two weeks from now you'll have forgotten about the few negatives and will still be floating on the positive. A great accomplishment physically & spiritually. Running a marathon is hard. You are a rock star!
colby2010-12-12 09:00:02 +0000 #4
Great report.

I checked out the Galloway calculator vs. the RW calculator and it was definitely interesting.

Galloway:

5k 7:58 / 24:42

10k 8:32 / 52:53

HM 8:54 / 1:56:35

M 9:39 / 4:12:37

M train 11:39 / 5:05:01

RW:

5k 8:09 / 25:17

10k 8:30 / 52:44

HM 8:52 / 1:56:15

M 9:15 / 4:02:22

M train 10:18 - 11:36 / 4:29:52 - 5:03:55

BQ is 3:40 since I'm under 35, though - don't know if I'll get fast enough or old enough first! :P
GLC19682010-12-12 10:01:26 +0000 #5
Great race report! Thanks so much for sharing!!

And fantastic job, Oak...I'm very inspired and impressed.
Susan Otcenas2010-12-12 10:12:13 +0000 #6
Quote:

Originally Posted by colby

Great report.

I checked out the Galloway calculator vs. the RW calculator and it was definitely interesting.

Galloway:

5k 7:58 / 24:42

10k 8:32 / 52:53

HM 8:54 / 1:56:35

M 9:39 / 4:12:37

M train 11:39 / 5:05:01

RW:

5k 8:09 / 25:17

10k 8:30 / 52:44

HM 8:52 / 1:56:15

M 9:15 / 4:02:22

M train 10:18 - 11:36 / 4:29:52 - 5:03:55

BQ is 3:40 since I'm under 35, though - don't know if I'll get fast enough or old enough first! :P

What are your inputs to get these figures?
Susan Otcenas2010-12-12 08:52:18 +0000 #7
Quote:

Originally Posted by OakLeaf

I finished in 4:21:28, well within my goal of 4:30. Placing: 15/44 in age group, 357/1099 women, 1313/2789 overall.

Wow!! Congrats! I think this is fantastic for a first-timer. (Or for any any-timer for that matter.)

So happy that you exceeded your goal!

How are you feeling today?

Susan
OakLeaf2010-12-12 09:33:13 +0000 #8
Oh, I still have some muscle soreness this morning, but the fabulous thing is that I've had no Achilles pain at all. Not in the first few miles of the race, not Sunday afternoon, not Monday morning, none. None of the upper body soreness I had after the half, either (although maybe that's just because of the slower pace ). No cramps.

If the weather were better I'd either be doing the club ride tonight (although probably slowly!), or driving into the city for the Ride of Silence. But I'll be honest that I'm not too terribly disappointed about the wet and chilly weather.

A little yoga will be great, and probably a short, flat jog tomorrow.

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